Lead Belly Documentary Might See A Release This Year

There’s a couple of generations of people who have no idea who Lead Belly is, but if you have dug bands like the Beatles and Nirvana or have watched the first episode of “Eastbound and Down” (Ram Jam’s cover of “Black Betty” can be heard during the jet ski scene), you have heard his influence. And if the indie documentary “Lead Belly: Life, Legend, Legacy” gets released this year, you’ll find out more about him.

Lead Belly Teaser

The documentary follows the folk/blues musician Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, who was born in 1888. One cool rumor that went around is that he got his name from his ability to drink moonshine. His songs covered the essentials of his time: women, liquor, racism, prison (he was incarcerated many times for his violent temper) and work.  While he could play the 12-string guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica and more, sometimes he just said “fuck it” and recorded himself singing and stomping his feet. While he died before receiving the acclaim he deserved, his spirit lived on in the music of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Beatles, the White Stripes and more. He was reintroduced to Generation X when Kurt Cobain famously covered “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” for Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged.

Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Nirvana

Anyways, the documentary includes interviews with Harry Belafonte, the late Odetta, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie (son of Woody), folk singer Pete Seeger and more. The film is being held up until they get enough money for distribution. They’ve started a kickstarter-like program to help collect money. I usually think that method is tacky (having your own fans finance your work and make you pay to see it is bullshit in my book), but this documentary seems interesting enough to make me want to help it get released. You can check out a couple of songs by Lead Belly I dig below and donate to the cause right HERE. It’d be cool to see this puppy get a release date.

The Bourgeois Blues – Lead Belly

Where Did You Sleep Last Night – Lead Belly

Black Betty – Lead Belly

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